Prick Spur


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 370

This small bronze spur, inlaid in silver, was found in Paris in the river Seine. It was secured to the heel of the rider by means of a strap attached to two side buttons (now missing). An extra strap passed through the heel’s hook (shaped as a horse’s head) before going around the ankle, to be sure that it would not move.

In antiquity, spurs were not used in pairs, but rather as a single accessory attached to only one of the feet. They were used, as they are today, for directing a horse to move forwards. Evolved from Celtic and Roman types, this kind of spur is found in Roman Gaul in contexts dated between the 1st and the 3rd century A.D. In Britain, related indigenous examples can be dated from the 4th century, the horse’s head usually replaced by a simple hook.

Prick Spur, Copper alloy, silver, Gallo-Roman

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